Life is about connecting with God through people... All I did when I was drinking and using drugs was focus on me, what I wanted and what I thought I needed. So, my connections with people were quite one-sided and often times volatile and short-lived. In the process of recovering from active alcoholism and drug addiction, I began to see where I was being selfish and self-centered. It has taken me a long time in recovery really begin to understand the importance of helping others and giving of myself.
I've shared many times on this blog that I feel like "I owe." I don't truly believe that God keeps a scorecard, specifically tallying my plusses and minuses. However, I know that for many years I took, stole, grabbed and clutched onto people, things and ideas. I don't walk around beating myself up for that like I used to, but I do feel a sense of imbalance where my good works and self centered behaviour are concerned. I want to be able to look back on my life at the end, and see a pattern of good works, of helping others. I want to see where God used me to make a positive difference in the lives of people I knew. I don't want to look back and see where most of my life was spent taking for myself. I do believe that God put us together to love one another and to help one another. He wants us to love Him of our own free will. He wants us to live a life that puts us in contact with Him, that we might grow ever closer to Him. He wants us to show our love for Him by loving those He loves. I do good works and help others today not so much to "even the score," but because that's what I believe God wants me to do. I do this out of a strong desire to be good, and to grow closer to God. (and, it turns out that I really enjoy helping others and being a good person... there must be something to our AA saying: "we're not bad people getting good, we're sick people getting well")
I used to have expectations of how folks ought to react when I help them. Today that is much less of a problem for me, because of practicing the 12 Steps, and learning to do good things for the right reasons. Being sober today is about a lot more than just not drinking. My problem is me, and my predisposition to be consumed with matters of self. I am grateful that the solution (getting out of myself) is also the correct use of my will. By getting out of myself, and truly loving and helping others, I am helped as well. That's the miracle of how God works. That's the deal, it's that simple. Dear Saint Francis was really onto something when he wrote his beautiful prayer. It's no mistake that his prayer appears in the 11th Step where we really work to refine and strengthen our connection to God, before we tackle the 12 Step where we help others and practice these principles in all our affairs. The Steps are in order for a reason. It takes us awhile to become more altruistic and less self-centered. After 14+ years sober, I am still working to improve on this.